This BR-X816U2 is the older and significantly cheaper sibling of the BR3D-12U3, but identical in appearance. It also requires an external power supply, and is similarly quiet during operation. Unlike its brother it lacks support for USB 3.0, however, and is limited to eight-speed writing.

We had some interesting results when we plugged this drive into our PC. First, Windows thought it was a USB 3.0 model, and suggested plugging it into the faster port for better performance.

As with the BR3D-12U3, Nero allowed us to select eight-speed burning for our four-speed TDK media, and 10-speed for our six-speed discs. Our test results didn’t tally with the write times that should have been possible at those speeds, suggesting only part of the process is conducted at the faster speeds. However, our results were rather impressive for a USB 2.0 Blu-ray burner.

Using four-speed media, we wrote 21GB of data to disc in 20 mins 46 secs, and the same file to eight-speed media in 13 mins 35 secs. Both resulting discs were accessible by a standalone Blu-ray player.

How we tested

When using any backup medium, reliability is the number-one concern. If a BD-R disc recorded by a particular drive is unable to be read by another Blu-ray burner or playback device, it’s useless.

Since Blu-ray films are unable to be copied without first removing their AACS encryption, we used Nero Video to create a 21GB encryption-free Blu-ray video (BDMV) disc image, made up of several smaller files.

We then used Nero Burning ROM to copy this disc image to four-speed TDK and six-speed Verbatim discs. For each drive, we recorded how long it took to complete this test. If the BDMV then played in a standalone player, it was recorded as a successful burn.

We also paid attention to how noisy the drive was in operation, and the write speeds offered by Nero. It’s possible to exceed the disc speed rating with some drives.

Most important is whether a disc can be successfully burned at the top speed that both the media and drive support. Today’s media tops out at six-speed, and it’s essential that a Blu-ray drive can provide a sustained data rate to match – particularly when using cheap media.

We also used the free ImgBurn utility to measure performance. We didn’t test the drives’ CD and DVD performance.

Buffalo MediaStation BR-X816U2: Specs

  • External USB 2.0 Blu-ray writer
  • 7.2x BD-ROM
  • 8x BD-R SL
  • 2x BD-RE
  • 8x BD-R DL
  • 16x DVD-R
  • 4x DVD-R DL
  • 5x DVD-RAM
  • 32x CD-R
  • 24x CD-RW
  • Lightscribe
  • 21GB burn time: 4x media = 20 mins 46 secs, 6x media = 13 mins 35 secs
  • works with Windows XP/Vista/7
  • requires an external power supply (supplied)
  • 2-year warranty
  • 160x220x50mm
  • 1.2kg
  • External USB 2.0 Blu-ray writer
  • 7.2x BD-ROM
  • 8x BD-R SL
  • 2x BD-RE
  • 8x BD-R DL
  • 16x DVD-R
  • 4x DVD-R DL
  • 5x DVD-RAM
  • 32x CD-R
  • 24x CD-RW
  • Lightscribe
  • 21GB burn time: 4x media = 20 mins 46 secs, 6x media = 13 mins 35 secs
  • works with Windows XP/Vista/7
  • requires an external power supply (supplied)
  • 2-year warranty
  • 160x220x50mm
  • 1.2kg

OUR VERDICT

This well-priced external drive makes its presence known with a bulky power adaptor. The Buffalo is by no means portable, but offers very good performance with today’s recordable Blu-ray media.

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